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Twitter Academia

Twitter Academia

We, academics, like to finish our grant proposals by stating how we will communicate our findings to practitioners, and how, thanks to social media (Twitter), this is so easy to do. But, in most cases, that is a lie. Academics don't believe practitioners’ opinions (not supported with a doi number – an ID of material published online) to be retweet-worthy. Also, academics don't want to be bothered by “peasants” who are unclear as to what an effect size of .43 means. It's simply no match, thus, we stick to our fellow academics. Just like in reality.

Interestingly, this virtual academic space is well arranged in terms of types of academics. Let me explain. Twitter academia consists of four different groups: 1) Depressed academics 2) Condescending bullies 3) Petrified PhD students, and 4) Academic Superstars, sustaining the existence of the previous groups.

Depressed academics are the easiest to recognize: overachievers with fragile self-esteem and inability to accept that their productivity is terrifyingly lower than their ambition (which is through the roof). So they desperately tweet in order to find some justification for their non-writing days. Then the bullies. Oh, no student exam or a conversation is safe from them posting it publicly, intended for their condescending peers’ scrutiny. And they do this without realizing how horrible of an example they are to the next group – the Petrified PhD students. Those guys, with their puppy eyes, look at their academic idols being either suicidal or sociopaths, and wonder why they brought this misery upon themselves. Here the Superstars join the picture. They are known for their regular tweets "Our six papers got published this week! #typicalThursday" or "We got another grant" (also known as the academic Holy Grail), or the standard "I love my job #blessed". These tweets, for the Depressed group, are just prolonging and deepening the self-pity, whereas the Condescending group pretends to like the Superstars but actually passes that envy and bitterness to the lower branches of the academic three - the PhD's. The PhD’s are in this mess directly because of the Superstars and the (unrealistically) good image they portray, but are more likely to become future members of the Depressed group (unless they keep their ego in check).
Thinking back, maybe practitioners dodged the bullet. 

For members of the second group asking for the evidence behind this categorization - here is a reference: Common Sense (2019). doi:10.1007/978-3-319-92171-6_49.

Irena Boskovic, PhD

Teacher and Researcher at FPN



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